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This Lesson Really Breaks The Bank

, , , , , , | Working | May 10, 2022

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really trusts him, although they have questioned his actions on a few occasions. This is a story of one of those times. 

[Father-In-Law]’s boss had him go across state lines to bid on a job. [Father-In-Law] really didn’t want to because it was a two-and-a-half-hour ride that he knew would be rough on the men in his crew. He got down there as the State representative for the Department of Transit was going over the job. Apparently, the job was partially completed. It was a rather long stretch of a new highway connecting two other highways. The problem was that the previous contractor had started the project at both ends with the plan to meet in the middle. Yeah, you already see where this is heading. They didn’t plan well, and the ends were at least a mile apart. So, instead of doing the right thing and fixing the problem, the company decided that since the state foolishly paid fully upfront, they would go out of business, thus providing no way for the state to get the money back.

The State representative made it clear that this job had to be done quickly. Some big politician had made this highway a big part of his campaign, and now his reputation was on the line. The representative said that whoever got this job had to complete it in thirty days.

Father-In-Law: “Excuse me, sir. This job won’t take thirty days. It will—”

At this point, the representative went on a cussing tirade that he knew what he was talking about and it WOULD take thirty days and that was all there is to it because they had to redo over twenty miles of the road.

My father-in-law decided then and there that he didn’t even want to fool with this guy. Plus, it was a long drive for his crew. He overbid the job. In construction, especially big jobs, if a company doesn’t want the job, they will still bid on it because it makes them look good. If they don’t want it, they will place a high enough bid that they know they will not get it. Well, turns out [Father-In-Law] didn’t bid high enough. His company was the lowest bid.

His boss and the owner of the company called my [Father-In-Law] in for a meeting.

Boss: “What were you thinking? We looked at this and we stand to lose over $200,000.”

Father-In-Law: “Lose? No, we will make a whole lot more then that.” *Turning to the owner* “Look. You’ve known me for a long, long time. Have I ever let you down? Do you trust me or not?”

Owner: “No, you haven’t. But this… I don’t see how you can do this.” *Pauses* “But I do trust you.”

Father-In-Law: “Okay, look at this contract.” *Points to a clause* “This is how we are going to make money.”

Boss: “With the early completion bonus?”

Most large construction contracts have what is called an Early Completion Bonus Clause. This is where they pay a certain amount of money for each day the job is completed ahead of schedule. These can vary from a few thousand to millions.

Father-In-Law: “With the clause that the State representative put in there himself of $20,000 a day for early completion. Now, I want to make a bet with you. If I make this company money, which I will, I get a week off and each member of my crew gets a week’s bonus pay.”

Owner: “You seem mighty sure of yourself. You got yourself a deal.”

[Father-In-Law] went back to his crew and filled them in on his plan to fix the problem. They were at first not very happy until he told them about the bonus. They went wholeheartedly into it. The crew worked themselves from sunup to sundown and some, like my [Father-In-Law], slept in their vehicles so they wouldn’t have to make the five-hour daily commute.

The job was completed… in eight days! [Father-In-Law] said the solution was easier than anyone had proposed if they had just bothered to look at the layout of the land. All that was required was a change in about a two-mile stretch. 

The State representative was thrilled until he got the bill for not only the $200,000 but the request for over $400,000 of Early Completion Bonus. The representative balked at it at first, but when presented with the contract HE HIMSELF had written, he had no choice but to authorize payment.

The owner was so thrilled that he gave the crew a full two weeks bonus and a week off paid. [Father-In-Law] spent his week off working on his old truck and taking the grandkids fishing.

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